Spalding Gray spent most of his career sharing the intimate details of his life with the public. His monologues covered topics from sex to his experiences as an actor, to his surgery for a “macular pucker” (clinically known as epiretinal membrane). The former and latter subjects were even turned into feature films.
Because Gray shared so much of his life publically, it seems natural that he might have published his journals one day. However, he never had the chance to do it. Gray committed suicide in 2004.
Now all of his journals, notes, and even medical records have been gathered up and sorted through by editor Nell Casey.
The Journals of Spalding Gray is a look at some of the thoughts and feelings Gray had during different points in his life. While it is mostly fascinating, it’s hard not to feel like an intruder in someone else’s mind. We do not know which of these journal entries Gray would have shared, if any, had he decided to take on this project himself.
Casey defends her choices in the “Introduction” and “Editor’s Notes” sections of the book. She makes the valid point that Gray was very open about his life. She also points out that Gray had indicated at different times that he thought his journals would be published, and some of the journal entries even seem to address an audience.
The Journals of Spalding Gray was also published with the cooperation of Gray’s widow, Kathleen Russo.
Still, reading something like this is not an act to be taken lightly. Though Gray chose to share parts of his life through his monologues, he rarely shared those moments in their raw form. As off-the-cuff and conversational as his monologues were, they were always carefully scripted. Gray fed off of his audience, changing and crafting his shows based on their reactions.
This book exposes him completely. It is not just entertainment, but a portrait of a soul too tortured to continue living.